(For the purposes of this article, when I refer to women, I mean anyone with a uterus)
In the UK, there are 15 types of contraception available, most of which are hormonal-based. Although non-hormonal forms such as condoms are widely available, many women want a more secure method of preventing unwanted pregnancies. Why is it, then, that the only alternatives include a bath-towel-sized sheet of paper in their packets, with a list of all the potential side effects? Some of my favourites from the pill include:
And of course, these are just a few examples. After being around for over 60 years, you’d think a better option would be available by now. And this isn’t just the case with the pill; we’ve all heard the horror stories from our friends who got the IUD fitted, and were stuck with immense stomach cramps and a period that lasted 2 months. Not to mention the pain of getting the IUD inserted and taken out by a grumpy doctor who just wants their lunch break, while you're sat like a lemon on the examination table with your hoo-ha out.
Of course, these are just some accounts, and many people get along very well with hormonal forms of birth control. For some women, it’s easy, and creates the freedom to have sex without worrying about pregnancy. I don’t want to do these women a disservice by recounting solely the negatives, as hormonal birth control can make some people’s periods lighter or non-existent, clear up acne, reduce cramps, and lessen the symptoms of endometriosis, to name a few. But for the rest of us, why should we settle for something that just isn’t good enough?
I have multiple friends who also have worries about coming off the pill, due to the side effects and withdrawal symptoms associated. Withdrawal symptoms include heavier periods, PMS, weight changes, and increased hair growth.
So, why not try another option? Fancy getting a device that looks like a tiny pogo stick shoved in your uterus? Or perhaps you like the thought of having your arm cut open and a little stick called Nexplanon (which sounds like a chemical weapon) sewn in for the next three years? Oh, wait, I’ve got it, you want to have an injection every 8-13 weeks that steadily releases the progestogen into your bloodstream, causing headaches, mood swings and breast tenderness?
Not to mention the social stigma around sexually active women (who sleep with men) that aren’t on the pill or use hormonal contraceptives. They’re deemed ‘irresponsible’ and ‘reckless’ by society for not being careful enough, despite unwanted pregnancies being a two-way street. (And why is it always our mothers that shame us for this?).
I genuinely believe that the reason a better option hasn’t been invented yet is because pregnancy is a women's issue. If men had uteruses and were able to get pregnant, I guarantee a better option would have been invented decades ago. And of course, abortions would be legal everywhere, but that’s another issue entirely.